SALT LAKE CITY — I think in general, cops complain about everything. We are professionals in complaining. I have caught myself getting wrapped up in it to the point where I'm upset for no apparent reason. This job can be a meat grinder, and I think complaining is the only real outlet a lot of officers think they have. “We never get a raise, the citizens hate us, our administration is dumb, my car smells like feet, our administration is dumb ….”
This cycle gets police extremely embittered towards the administration, and they then take it out on the citizens. Now for a lot of officers, they can shrug off the bad news or “complainers” and deal with the residents of their city in a professional manner.
Citizens rarely remember the positive or neutral experiences with police, but they sure do remember the negative ones. Every time someone finds out I'm a cop they never remember a story about a tire being changed. It's always how rude the officer was when they received a ticket.
I've decided to express my thanks for the many things I'm thankful for in this great state. I'm thankful first and foremost to my wife and family and the spouses/families of all officers. You are our rock, our lantern in the night and the one constant that we can always count on when the job brings us down. There is truly nothing better than my kids giving me a hug and my wife putting her fingers through my hair and telling me it will be better tomorrow.
I'm thankful for patient drivers. They keep everyone safe and set an example for everyone else … even me on occasion.
I'm thankful for good parents. If the world was full of good parents who spent time with their kids, taught them right from wrong and acted like parents instead of good buddies, we would have a lot less to do.
I'm extremely thankful to my parents. They worked overtime on me to keep me heading in a positive direction. My mom stayed upbeat with a great sense of humor and tried to keep me from being cynical and sarcastic (shocking in a cop). My dad inspired me to do more and be more — to always strive to be better at whatever I do, whether that be at my job or at being a father.
I'm thankful to the people who step up and help people when they are down. For those who speak up when someone is being victimized. For those who call in and provide information on a crime instead of letting a criminal go free. For those who realize we are actually trying to do the right thing and keep everyone safe. For those who refuse to allow this state to turn into other states riddled with crime.
I'm thankful to the citizens who come up to us and thank us for the job we do and say a few kind words. We may act tough on the outside, but we can never hear too many compliments. I don't know if it's just the holidays approaching, but as I have been doing my job, several people have walked by and given my a kind nod and smile or a thank you. I was however, directing traffic and not issuing a citation, which may have had something to do with it.
I'm thankful for my job. It may have dwindling benefits and pay raises, but it's different every day. It challenges me both mentally and physically. It reminds me to be grateful for what I have and not to immediately judge the people who have nothing. I have seen a lot of sadness and given a lot of bad news. But I have seen amazing acts of courage by both officers and citizens. I have experiences that will last a lifetime, and I will try not to complain for more.
I'm lastly thankful for inspiration. My close friend wrote an obituary (below) for his brother that brought me to the verge of tears . It also inspired me to reach out to people who may have fallen by the wayside, and I hope it inspires you. His brother suffered from schizophrenia and was homeless in the California area. It reminded me that the homeless in this state are someone's brother or sister, and they may not be that way by choice.
One week ago today, at roughly the time of morning that I write this, my little brother Mark died.
Cancer, that random and indiscriminate killer, had attacked his pancreas, a stealthy assault that went undetected until he collapsed in a Salinas, Calif., street and woke to tell medical professionals that his stomach hurt. A few tests later they told him he had at best six months to live.
Mercifully, Mark likely never understood what they were saying. The words he comprehended, but their import no doubt sailed over his head. Even before the cancer, Mark had been living with one foot in this life and the other … elsewhere.
In his 20s, at an age when most of us are still dreaming and scheming and plotting to take over the world, Mark was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. That wouldn't have surprised a scientist; after all, our father had the same ailment, and it tends to run in families, like red hair or twins. But paranoid schizophrenia is a tad less benign than hair color, and it effectively ended Mark's life.
He doggedly hung around anyway, growing less and less aware of anything but what was going on in his head, heeding only the voices that spoke to him from appliances or passing cars.
I visited Mark a couple weeks ago, at a disingenuously titled “skilled nursing facility.” But it didn't matter where he was — he wasn't home. His body was making daily roll call, but his mind had gone AWOL.
He didn't know me, he emphatically declared I was not his brother. Ravings, sure, but it still hurt. The only time he showed a flicker of life was when I asked if he needed anything, and he said, “Some smokes.” I bought a pack of Marlboros, wheeled him out to the smokers' patio and lit one for him. He smoked mechanically, pausing a couple times to stare at me, wordlessly. I tried to smile, which isn't easy when your heart is breaking.
But that's not the Mark I want to remember. The brother I want to remember is the crafty little boy who learned to say “me too” to everything his older brother and sister asked for; the crazy kid who, on a dare, dropped a nickel into the plumber's crack of a husky gent sitting in the bleachers at an incredibly boring dirt-track race our dad took us to; the movie-loving kid who helped me sell pilfered newspapers door-to-door on Sunday mornings so we could go to a double-feature; the wild teenager who tried to escape picking cherries with other boys' home inmates by stealing a horse in a tiny central Utah town, only to learn that folks in those parts still took horse thievin' seriously.
I want to remember him as the gregarious, outgoing Evans, the kid who never had any trouble making friends but still had time to spend with his shy older brother, who didn't make friends easily. For much of our childhood, I considered Mark my best friend, and he let me go on thinking that, even though I often mistreated him, as older brothers stupidly do.
So Mark Lewis Evans died, without wailing mourners, a 21-gun salute or headlines. He departed this life as he lived it, the adult part anyway, quietly and with little impact. Except on me. I miss you, brother. Until we meet again. — Rich
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